Virtual assistant

Telstra provides its staff with a virtual HR assistant called Darcy – Software – Telco/ISP

Telstra has created an HR virtual assistant called “Darcy” as part of its T22 transformation, designed to provide staff with “easier access to answers to HR questions”.

Director of digital experience Melissa Dorey told the IBM Think 2021 conference last month that Darcy shares the same IBM underpinnings as Telstra customer support assistant Codi.

Dorey said “virtual assistants and AI” have been on the HR roadmap for some time, but have been accelerated over the past year.

“During the pandemic, I’ve been quite inspired by a lot of the rapid innovations and accelerating roadmap elements that I’ve seen in our organization and even in the industry, and I thought to myself, ‘C really is a good time to innovate,” Dorey said.

Darcy said finding HR policies has historically been difficult because of the differences in language used by HR and staff.

“We’ve always struggled to provide easy access to answers to HR questions and queries,” she said.

“For a long time, we looked at different intranets, knowledge bases and search engines and that sort of thing.

“But when you really break it down, we face a lot of challenges around the language. HR terminology for a policy or process is often very different from what different areas of the business would refer to for some of those actions or processes.

“So right from the start, you have a challenge where someone asks a question, we have to translate that and understand what they’re asking, and understand the best way to answer it.

“And when you try to drive self-service, people face it right off the bat. They type in a search term, and it can be difficult to match it to the content they need to answer their question.

As an example, Dorey said a common search term by staff is “Workday”, which is Telstra’s core HR system.

But searching for “Workday” alone produces far too many matches to be useful.

“They were getting so much content every time and we realized there was an opportunity there to help this person understand what their real question was,” Dorey said.

Darcy was configured to be more “than an FAQ bot”; it prompts staff for more information to determine what they want and can also perform pre-qualification checks to see if staff are eligible for a policy before submitting an application.

Dorey showed an example using Telstra’s vacation purchase policy, where Darcy asked a member of staff enough questions to ensure they were eligible to purchase more vacation days.

In the future, however, Darcy may not need to ask: the virtual assistant may be able to poll other bots or the Workday system itself to get the answers and qualify staff on-the-fly. -field.

“One of the key elements of our scaling plan [Darcy] is a better connection to our core HR systems,” Dorey said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how we better connect to Workday or other sources of employee data, because if you look at the question I just asked, a much better way to answer it would be for Darcy to check very quickly, ‘Do I have a leave balance and am I eligible?’ by checking a number of different systems and politics.

In addition to being able to orchestrate actions in the background to reach a conclusion, the future Darcy may also be able to do certain actions on behalf of the staff member.

“We had in the returns [to Darcy] that people have already started to expect Darcy to be able to perform tasks on their behalf,” Dorey said.